Belhanda not expecting favours from Marseille

AFP, Tuesday 10 Apr 2012

Montpellier playmaker Younes Belhanda says he does not expect beleaguered Marseille to roll over when his title-chasing side visit Stade Velodrome on Wednesday

Morocco and Montpellier midfielder Younes Belhanda

With Marseille in ninth place in Ligue 1 and on a run of 11 games without a win, some of the club's fans have pledged to support Montpellier, who are bidding to pull clear of OM's hated rivals Paris Saint-Germain at the top of the table.

Victory for Montpellier would put them three points above PSG with seven games to play and their cause is helped by the fact that Marseille will have one eye on Saturday's League Cup final against Lyon at Stade de France.

Belhanda, though, says he does not expect Marseille coach Didier Deschamps to field a weakened side.

"Not only do I not believe that, but it would be stupid for them to give up on the match," the Moroccan told Tuesday's edition of L'Equipe.

"Doing that would be lying to themselves. It would be an insult to football."

The game was initially pushed back to allow Marseille extra time to prepare for the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final against Bayern Munich, in which they succumbed to a 4-0 aggregate defeat.

Marseille will have to do without top scorer Loic Remy and right-back Cesar Azpilicueta, who were both substituted during Sunday's 2-1 loss to PSG at Parc des Princes.

Remy is yet to fully recover from a right thigh injury, while Azpilicueta received a heavy knock to his ankle against PSG.

"Remy has a problem with his thigh," Deschamps told reporters on Tuesday.

"We have to make sure he feels free enough. You can see it in his play. He won't be there."

Ghanaian midfielder Andre Ayew, meanwhile, may miss out due to an ongoing shoulder problem that could require an operation before the end of the season.

"I'm a competitor," he said. "If the coach needs me, I'll always be there for the team, as long as I'm able to play."

Montpellier coach Rene Girard is likely to make one change to the team that beat Sochaux 2-1 on Saturday, with Garry Bocaly expected to replace Cyril Jeunechamp at right-back after serving a suspension.

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